The excellent striker-fired FNS-9 boasts a tremendous 17+1 payload, making it a truly effective home defense solution—especially with the addition of a tactical light/laser like the Viridian C5L.
When striker-fired guns were first popularized back in the mid-1980s a lot of people, myself included, did not like them and were even a bit derisive. Today it is the manufacturers of striker-fired guns that are laughing as their popularity continues to grow. Indeed, it seems that every major firearms manufacturer is offering one or more striker-fired pistols and now Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal, more commonly known as FN Herstal has entered the fray with a new striker-fired pistol.
Rather than the external hammer of the FNX and FNP lines, the FNS features an internal striker system.
FN’s new FNS is a recoil-operated, semi-automatic, striker-fired pistol with 17+1 capacity in 9mm and 14+1 in .40 S&W. In fact, the “S” in the name stands for striker. FN has been making high-quality firearms for over 120 years and is responsible for some of the most successful and famous guns ever made. This was in no small part due to their partnership with one of the most well known names in firearms design, John Moses Browning. FN has also been relied upon and trusted by militaries worldwide, including our own, to produce firearms that are ultimately reliable and effective.
The FNS is made in FN’s US-based manufacturing facility in Columbia, South Carolina. Fans of FN may recall that the company did offer another striker-fired pistol, the Forty-Nine, which has been discontinued. Like the FN Forty-Nine the new FNS uses a double-action method of operation, but it does lack the earlier model’s double-strike capability. On the FNS the striker must be reset by the movement of the slide, either under recoil or manually. If you squeeze the trigger on a dud round there is no opportunity to squeeze it again (double-strike it), the action/slide must be cycled manually to eject the bad round and feed a fresh one and recharge the striker to be able to fire again.
The trigger measured consistently at 7 pounds with a smooth two-stage design, even break and short reset for faster follow-up shots.
Hammer fired pistols can be either single-action only, where the trigger only releases the hammer to strike the firing pin to fire the gun, double-action-only, where the hammer both cocks and releases the hammer to strike the firing pin, or both. In the case where you have both types of actions, the first shot is traditionally fired in double-action mode and the slide retracting under recoil cocks the hammer—making all the subsequent shots single-action. The disadvantage is that the shooter must learn two very different trigger squeezes.
In a striker gun there is no hammer—instead a striker mechanism is combined with the firing pin and a sear that applies tension and then releases the firing pin to fire the pistol. In some designs working the slide fully charges the striker so that the trigger only releases it, which is considered single-action. In other designs the trigger both charges (at least partially) and then releases the striker, making it a double-action. The FNS uses this second system and like all striker pistols offers the advantage of a light and consistent trigger squeeze for every shot.
This pistol will also be very familiar in look and feel to FN’s current FNP and FNX series of pistols, which use a traditional hammer-fired single/double-action method of operation. In fact the FNS is simply and FNP/FNX with a striker. Like the FNX pistol the FNS is also features blackened steel ambidextrous controls, including the frame-mounted thumb safety. This safety works in the traditional up for safe, down to fire style and shows a small red dot when it is in the fire condition. It works by physically blocking the trigger bar from moving backwards to release the striker. The safety is serrated and protrudes slightly for ease of use; however it is very far back on the frame so you have to bring your thumb back to engage it. It is also very small, minuscule even, and I found it slightly uncomfortable.